24th Sunday after Pentecost (11/19/06) The readings for the end of the church year focus on the end times, with horrific visions of destruction, which Jesus in Mark 13 describes as the "birth pangs" of the new creation. In a world where those visions still are relevant, we choose instead to hear the words of hope expressed in Psalm 16 where "my body shall also rest in hope" and "you will show me the path of life." Living as we do in the most affluent country – and perhaps county – in history, the measure of wealth of a Christian is different, to be found in sacrificial service to others and a life of community. As Luther tried to redefine what it meant to be a follower of Jesus in the 16th century, so it is our duty to do the same for the 21st. So we can grieve at the world's pain, but we should not lose heart, but rather struggle to bring God's light into the world, which is a source of our hope and joy.